They feed and care for the entire family, work in the fields and carry heavy loads: in sub-Saharan Africa, women do a lot of the work in the fields, in the household, look after the well-being of the whole family, and yet they are dependent on their husbands. The reason: Women often lack rights, a position in society, and their own financial resources. In developing countries, unfortunately, they are still the most vulnerable to poverty and have fewer opportunities to receive an education.
This is where Nyambe comes in with her work. She has worked as a women’s representative for CGL (Parrogate) in Zambia, the land of waterfalls in southern Africa, since 2014 . Parrogate is a cotton company and certified partner of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA). As part of the cooperation between CGL and CmiA, Nyambe trains smallholder farmers in farming and agricultural topics. “I visit the women regularly and train them in topics such as equal rights, basic business knowledge, and educate them about child labor.” Most of the women did not have the opportunity to attend school. She knows exactly how to reach the women who often can neither read nor write: For this reason, the employee of CGL uses picture books in which typical situations from women’s everyday lives are depicted. In this way, Nyambe can explain to them even better how women can realize their own projects and become role models for others. “When the women see the illustrations, they can change perspective and understand the subject of equality much better.” In addition to offering these training courses, Nyambe is the contact person for special projects, the so-called community cooperation projects, which are supported by the Aid by Trade Foundation. This enables women’s groups to obtain start-up financing for their own projects. “My job is to write proposals and plan budgets on behalf of the women’s groups. The women share their ideas with me, I supervise their projects and keep track of them,” says the young woman.
The women take away a lot from Nyambe’s training: They learn to grow certified cotton, become more independent, and develop new project ideas. Nyambe was particularly impressed by one group of women. The women she helped after were given seed capital to open a clothing store. But they made much more out of it: They used their business knowledge and offered not only clothing but also food. “It was moving for me to see. The women showed me that they are independent and can make decisions themselves that benefit them and their business.”
Nyambe can be proud of her success and what she has achieved so far. “My greatest wish is to raise more money for the women’s groups so that I can help them change their lives in society. I want to give women hope who are trying to make a living from agriculture,” she says. “Empowering women helps the entire family.” Training and project support, as provided by Nyambe, are a central component of the Cotton made in Africa program. In this way, the initiative complements the measures laid down in the CmiA criteria for equal rights for women and men.
The work of the women’s representatives is co-financed by a donation from the Ana Kwa Ana Foundation. Ana Kwa Ana is a foundation established in 2009 by Janina Özen-Otto, daughter of AbTF founder Prof. Dr. Michael Otto: Hand in Hand), which cares for African HIV/AIDS orphans and street children and empowers women’s rights and their independence.